By Jim Porter
LoveCaldwell’s fifth year of hosting a medical-dental and social services clinic was attended by nearly four hundred thirty guests over a six hour span, on Saturday, September 22nd. The event was again held at Caldwell’s Canyon Springs High School in Caldwell’s north-end neighborhood. “We’ve been blessed by the hospitality of the Canyon Springs staff and students,” said this year’s CompassionCaldwell Director, Lorene Oates. “They have given us a home and the level of support by their teachers and administration really helps us reach an important part of our community. And of course, we try very hard to be good guests.”
CompassionCaldwell is sponsored by LoveCaldwell, Inc., a local non-profit civic organization that works to address human needs in Caldwell. “Whether it’s the big things like medical and dental care, or things we might not think of like a new haircut, the need is always there,” said Pastor Sharon Porter, CompassionCaldwell’s Administrator. “We are so thankful for the hundreds of people who gave their time to help their neighbors. Without them, this just doesn’t come together.”
LoveCaldwell also leans heavily on the incredible support of West Valley Medical Center. Many of the day’s volunteers come from West Valley. “They (West Valley Medical Center) are an incredible presence for good in our community. We could not do this without them,” said Pastor Porter. CompassionCaldwell also works with the support of a Portland area non-profit agency, Compassion Connect. Compassion Connect’s role is to provide both medical and dental hardware, supplies, and set-up expertise on-site.
“We have found the CompassionCaldwell event to be distinctive among all the clinics we facilitate on the West Coast. They are organized, focused on the details, and show a real concern for the people they care for,” remarked Ray Biggerstaff, Executive Director of Compassion Connect. “We have found in our five years of working together that they truly do love their city. They have an energy that is hard to match.”
On Saturday, September 22nd, those in need of dental care began to line up for the limited number of dental appointments by 5:30am. Patients with critical needs such as root canals, major fillings or extractions were transported by LoveCaldwell by 7:00am to an off-site dentist who volunteered the use of their office and staff for the day, however nearly all of the dental work for guests was accomplished on site.
Child care was provided for those with small children, light breakfasts and lunches were served, and a Hospitality Team roamed the building throughout the day offering coffee, muffins, milk and water to volunteers and guests alike. Brenda and Jerry Upchurch led a Clothing Team in the distribution of over 400 boxes of clothing provided by and through First Assembly of God (The Domes) and Caldwell Free Methodist church. Six stylists from the Paul Mitchell Beauty School were kept busy throughout the day giving new cuts to any guest who asked. Kelly Culver oversaw the Student Volunteer Team—mostly from Canyon Springs, but a few from Caldwell and Vallivue High Schools. “I’m always impressed by the kids. They work hard all day, especially with the Clothing and Equipment Teams. I’m really proud of them.”
“It’s a lot of work, a lot of organization, and literally thousands of volunteer hours to make this happen,” observed Oates. “But we live in a community that doesn’t ask ‘how hard is it,’ but ‘how can I help, and what can I do?’”
Preliminary data showed that the numbers of people served were nearly identical to last year’s event in most regards, except that the footprint is expanding. “We had a 205% increase in guests seeking assistance from Nampa. Overall, people came from 14 different communities, but nearly 75% of our guests were from Caldwell,” observed Pastor Porter. “The number of flu shots, vision screenings and haircuts remained about the same as other years.”
So what’s next for CompassionCaldwell? LoveCaldwell’s plan from the outset was to take a look at the event at the end of five years to see if it would still be a need in this area of Caldwell. It appears that it is. “CompassionCaldwell has always been, and will continue to be a way of serving our community. All services are freely and generously given by organizations and churches and individuals. At the end of the day, no guest goes home owing anyone anything, and hopefully they’ve come away feeling encouraged,” said Pastor Porter. “We do this because we love Caldwell.”